With air traffic and passenger demand continuing to grow, capacity will continue to be an issue at existing, expanding, and new airport facilities. In addition, the cost of new construction continues to increase, placing a premium on optimization of existing space and planning of new facilities. Peak-period demand accommodating both origin and destination flights as well as connections, both domestic and international, creates complex terminal design requirements affecting passenger circulation through all areas of an airport.
Passenger walk distance and ease of use must be considered when passenger terminal facilities are planned, especially in light of the aging population. In all facilities, vertical conveyance systems such as elevators and escalators are included to ease passenger vertical transitions, while moving walkways, passenger assist vehicles, and wheelchairs are often included to reduce walking distance and speed transit through an airport. Interaction of these various components as part of the overall conveyance system within and through the terminal is complex. Also, how efficiently the system works as a function of terminal design influences passenger flow through the facility which, in turn, affects overall customer satisfaction.
Even though passenger conveyance systems are provided, some passengers will still choose to walk beside the moving walkway, walk while on the moving walkway, or take stairs instead of elevators or escalators. To estimate space requirements for passenger conveyance systems, airport planners and designers must consider passenger choice of walking versus riding. Personal choice is affected by the queue length to access the conveyance system (balking will occur if the queue is too long), congestion on the system limiting the ability to pass, and the perceived length and difficulty of the walk. Other issues to consider include new and emerging technologies of high-speed and accelerating moving walkways and ability of older passengers to navigate them.
Conveyance systems all have design capacities, yet these characteristics are often overstated when compared to actual throughput that can be practically achieved in an airport environment. Practical throughput is affected by the amount of luggage accompanying passengers and the amount of personal space desired by passengers. In planning for efficient passenger flow and passenger space requirements, limited work has been performed to understand realistic throughput capacity of passenger conveyance systems. Some data has been collected at specific airports as part of modeling studies, yet comprehensive guidelines applicable across airports based on a range of passenger and conveyance characteristics do not currently exist.
The objective of this research is to prepare a comprehensive guidebook that will serve as a decision-support tool for planning, designing, and evaluating passenger conveyance systems at airports. The scope of this research should examine how passenger conveyance systems operate and provide service to different areas within the airport environment. For the purpose of this research project, passenger conveyance components include, but are not limited to, escalators, elevators, moving walkways, wheelchairs, and passenger assist vehicles/carts. Research should not include Automated People Mover systems (covered under other ACRP research projects), Personal Rapid Transit systems, and shuttle bus systems; however, it should include passenger conveyance system interface with components of the overall airport circulation system. Passengers are defined as any individual using the conveyance system.